Each year technology companies sunset both hardware and software versions. Some would call this planned obsolesce but nevertheless, most organizations will be impacted as more common software and hardware is retired by the manufacturer.

As an owner or user of these products often you will receive emails or see messages appear as you launch or use these products alerting you to version and or support expiration. In many cases, these alerts are a way to advertise a new version of a product, new features, etc. While these alerts can seem benign and even annoying, if ignored, they can create risk and vulnerability for your organization.

The first step is to understand what the alert really means. Technology companies normally define the retirement of a version /model in three categories, End of Sale, End of Life, or End of Support.

What is Manufacturer End of Sale?

End of Sale simply means the manufacturer (OEM) is no longer actively selling the item however this does not mean you will not or cannot find these items. As an example, Cisco may stop selling a wireless access point but when searching (Google, Bing) you may find many options to purchase the item from other non-approved sources).

What is Technology End of Life (EOL)?

End of Life (EOL) is used to describe the useful life of a product. After this period, the manufacturer will stop marketing, selling, or updating that particular item. End of Life indicates that the manufacturer will soon replace your equipment with a newer generation of the product. So, at this point, your OEM stops manufacturing the current product, thus creating a scarcity of the hardware. Doing this will cause a significant boost in demand for the newer generation product when launched. When your equipment enters the EOL phase of production, your OEM may still offer you maintenance services for your hardware/software even after the End-of-Life phase has long passed. However, this will come at a premium price.

What's the Difference Between End of Life (EOL) and End of Support (EOS)?

End of Support (EOS) for a product is also often referred to as the End of Service Life (EOSL) of a product. It is the final phase of your hardware /software lifecycle. This term is used to point out that your equipment /software’s OEM is planning to bring a complete end to the existence of your hardware/software version. It goes beyond OEM not selling or manufacturing already out of stock hardware /software, but they will also terminate the maintenance services they were providing before, thus rendering your device inoperable. At this point, in some cases, you will be referred to a third-party service provider who, of course, can still give you all the fast supports that you need, but your OEM will no longer be held responsible for this. Once the OEM decides to stop supporting a product, it releases an End of Service Life List. This data informs the public about the development and also the rise of a newer generation product. For software, the manufacture may offer extended support options, but these may have certain restrictions including time, types of updates, etc.

Adobe Flash End of Support (EOS)

In 2020 and 2021 there are several common software applications that have been retired and therefore may impact your organization. We will focus on two, Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft Teams using Internet Explorer 11.

Most organizations have been using Adobe Flash player for many years. In many cases, Flash Player is installed when a computer is purchased from the manufacturer. Flash was developed to provide access to multi-media, rich web content, etc.

Adobe began a communication campaign in 2017 to retire Flash due to ongoing performance impacts and security vulnerabilities. While most software manufacturers have been remediating their products to address the retirement of Flash be aware that some custom and commercial applications may not have been updated.

The following is the most recent communication from Adobe. Please note that Flash content will be blocked as of January 12, 2021. It is critical that you test your software applications to confirm they will continue to work without Flash.

https://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/end-of-life.html

Since Adobe is no longer be supporting Flash Player as of December 31, 2020, and Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021, Adobe strongly recommends all users immediately uninstall Flash Player to help protect their systems. 

  • Since Adobe is no longer supporting Flash Player after the EOL Date, Adobe will block Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2021 to help secure users’ systems. Flash Player may remain on the user’s system unless the user uninstalls it.
  • Microsoft removed Flash via Windows update as of December 31, 2020.
  • Google Chrome forces all Flash content to be approved before use.

 

Microsoft Teams EOS for Internet Explorer Version 11

Many of us are also using Microsoft Teams to collaborate with our co-workers and clients. Teams can be accessed and used from a web browser or via a dedicated client developed for specific hardware platforms like Windows, Mac OS, IOS, and Android. 

  • As of November 30, 2020, Microsoft, has stopped supporting Teams access using Internet Explorer version 11. 
  • Furthermore, on August 17, 2021, Microsoft will end support for Office 365 Web applications such as Outlook Web Access via Internet Explorer version 11. 

It is important to adopt a new browser version like Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. 

Mitigating Risk for End of Life Technologies

These are just two of many software titles that are impacted. In order to mitigate risk associated with end of life technology. Below are a few tips for reducing end of life technology vulnerabilities.

  • Scan your IT infrastructure for end of life technologies –  pay attention to emails, alerts, and screens that indicate changes to support, versions, and features to ensure your organization is not impacted.
  • Begin developing an alternative for your business need, or implement replacement solutions of outdated or unsupported technologies
  • Move to highly resilient and long-term security solutions that are built to adhere to industry standards

For 25 years, LBMC Technology Solutions has set up and supported business systems for clients in a proactive way that minimizes disruption and boosts productivity. Visit us online to learn more about our IT services to see how we can help you manage your IT environment.